Arriving back in Framlingham after trekking 6,000 miles to Nepal over ten months, Henry Dunham and Sam Crimp paid tribute to the constant encouragement they had from family, friends and strangers alike.
Their endeavour caught the attention of national media and supporters from all around the world, helping them raise more than £14,000 for Annie’s Challenge, a charity supporting brain tumour research, which Henry set up with his family last year after his sister Annie passed away from an astrocytoma, a type of brain cancer, last March.
The “Kathmandu-it” expedition took the duo through a dozen countries, and they pressed on despite broken bones and fearsome weather to reach their destination in time for the flight home.
Finally landing back in the UK last Friday, Henry, 28, described the experience as “surreal”.
“It’s similar to being a deer in the headlights,” he said. “You don’t know what to do with yourself. It’s a mixture of relief and an element of pride. We covered an awful lot of ground and lots of obstacles were overcome.
“That was absolutely once-in-a-lifetime.”
The duo’s adventure saw them trek through the Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria, eventually reaching Turkey.
From there, they ventured the length of Iran, took a boat to Dubai, then caught a flight to India and travelled north for three months, before they finally arrived in Nepal.
Henry explained a big setback was in Georgia, where Sam suffered a stress fracture in his foot, as thousands of miles of walking took its toll.
He said: “We wanted to keep moving, mainly because we had a plane booked.
“The only thing we could think of was to buy some bikes.
“But after three days, the bikes were stolen, so we thought, someone out there is telling us to have a rest!”
Henry said they never lacked the will to carry on, due to the support they received everywhere they went — and people from the poorest areas were the most helpful.
He described one instance where they were caught out with no cover during a sudden lightning storm while crossing a mountain range in Romania.
Seeking shelter, they found a shepherd’s hut.
“Thankfully, the shepherd saw us and beckoned us in,” said Henry.
“ He offered us food, coffee and a bed. Essentially, he saved us.
“He didn’t speak a word of English, we didn’t speak any Romanian, but it’s this bond that people have when you see someone in trouble.
“We were inundated with support. It’s really these sort of people who kept us going and we will be eternally grateful for that.”
Henry thanked everybody back home, as well as total strangers online, who provided “constant encouragement” throughout their voyage and donated to their cause.
“The situation with brain tumour research is, it’s so under-funded,” he said.
“The support has been incredible. First of all, it was just family and friends. As this thing has grown and progressed, it has got exceptionally big.
“A lot of people really all around the world have sent us support and encouragement.”
He added that he and Sam had been invited to give talks about the journey, and there were ideas for a possible book and documentary on their experiences.
If you would like to donate, go to www.justgiving.com/campaigns/charity/annies-challenge/kathmanduit